Coronavirus – China scraps New Year celebrations and quarantines 10 cities as ‘snake’ bug panic grows

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CHINA has scrapped major New Year celebrations as 10 cities are placed on lockdown amid the coronavirus outbreak.

More than 20million people in the Hubei province, which is where the epicentre of the outbreak, have been banned from travelling as experts fear the deadly virus is becoming impossible to contain.

Wuhan residents wearing masks as they stockpile on food amid the virus outbreak
Wuhan residents wearing masks as they stockpile on food amid the virus outbreak
Getty Images – Getty
Supermarket shelves in Wuhan are bare as residents scramble to stockpile on goods
Supermarket shelves in Wuhan are bare as residents scramble to stockpile on goods
Getty Images – Getty
Wuhan residents buying goods in the supermarket as the city was put on lockdown
Wuhan residents buying goods in the supermarket as the city was put on lockdown
Getty Images – Getty
A Wuhan resident wears a mask while buying vegetables
A Wuhan resident wears a mask while buying vegetables
Getty Images – Getty

But residents have have blasted authorities for waiting a month to put the city on lockdown.

Officials in the Chinese capital have scrapped events including temple fairs, which usually attract thousands of tourists.

Beijing authorities announced on social media that the move was to help epidemic prevention and control.

Beijing Tourism Net said the Beijing Ditan and Longtan Temple Fairs – scheduled for January 25 to 29 – would be cancelled.

The fairs saw 1.4million Chinese and foreign tourists over five days last year.

The Tanzhe Temple Scenic Area, Jietai Temple Scenic Area, and Miaofeng Mountain Scenic Area in Mentougou District will also be closed.

Locals in Wuhan, which has a population of 11 million, have been told not to travel, to avoid crowds and minimise public gatherings despite Chinese New Year being two days away.

Latest figures suggest the number of coronavirus cases in China has risen to 616.

The virus could now be declared a global health crisis after cases of the mystery bug previously quadrupled in just four days.

Police, SWAT teams and paramilitary troops have been out on the streets patrolling the railway stations as authorities have banned travelling on subways and ferries.

The airport and train stations have been shut down to outgoing passengers travelling after 10am local time.

John Spencer, chair of Urban Warfare Studies at the US Military Academy Modern War Institute, said it is impossible to shut an entire city down.

He told Wired: “It would be nearly impossible to be effective, even if you threw the entire Chinese military at it.

“You’d have to have a coast guard, a military. It’s just not feasible to seal in a major city in the modern age. It wasn’t even feasible before.”

Xiao, 26, a primary school teacher in Wuhan, told The Guardian: “When I saw the news when I woke up, I felt like I was going to go crazy. This is a little too late now. The government’s measures are not enough.”

Others criticised local authorities on the social media platform Weibo as #PrayforWuhan was trending.

One said: “It’s been a month since the first case was discovered and only now do they think of closing the city? This Wuhan emergency response is a little slow, right???”

Another added: “The government needs to address this. If things become too expensive, people will definitely panic and when people feel unsafe, terrible things happen. Right now people are fighting over supplies, soon they may just be fighting.”

Locals have shared images of their stockpiles of instant noodles and snacks on the social media platform Weibo.

One wrote: “No more going out … so I won’t get sick. Hope Wuhan can get some support soon.”

CITY ON LOCKDOWN

Supermarket shelves are empty as residents have started stockpiling goods to keep themselves isolated at home to avoid contracting the virus.

Images shared online show food prices have spiked in Wuhan.

Cake Liu left Wuhan last week after visiting her boyfriend there and said that while everything was normal then, the situation has since changed rapidly.

She said: “(My boyfriend) didn’t sleep much yesterday. He disinfected his house and stocked up on instant noodles. He’s not really going out. If he does he wears a mask.”

Petrol stations have been rammed with motorists trying to get as much fuel as possible amid rumours reserves had run out.

Pharmacies have sold out of face masks, residents said.

Seven million people in Huanggang, which is 45 miles away, have been told not to leave after there were confirmed cases.

Public transport stopped running at midnight local time.

And at least one million residents in Ezhou are unable to travel after the rail starions were shut.
The Sun Online travelled to the deadly epicentre as cases rapidly have continued to skyrocket.

Travelling to and from the smaller cities of Chibi and Zhijiang have also been banned.

The virus has spread from Wuhan to other parts of China as well as South Korea, Singapore the US and Thailand.

In Vietnam, a father and a son from China have tested positive for the virus.

There have been reported suspected cases in Saudi Arabia, Australia and Russia.

Local authorities are demanding that residents wear face masks in public places.

worker disinfects a railway station in China after a virus has infected more than 500 people in the country
A worker disinfects a railway station in China after the virus infected more than 600 people
EPA
Police deploy roadblocks as thousands attempt to flee Wuhan amid corona virus outbreak
Police deploy roadblocks in Wuhan amid corona virus outbreak
Twitter
This image shows the roadblocks that have been put in place in Wuhan to stop people from leaving the city where the virus outbreak is believed to have started
This image shows the roadblocks that have been put in place in Wuhan to stop people from leaving the city where the virus outbreak is believed to have started
Twitter
Medical staff attending to a patient at the The Central Hospital Of Wuhan Via Weibo in Wuhan
Medical staff tending to a patient at the The Central Hospital Of Wuhan
Reuters
Authorities guard the train station in Wuhan while wearing masks
Authorities guard the train station in Wuhan while wearing masks
Twitter
Patients queue up to seek treatment in Wuhan Tongji Hospital Fever Clinic
Patients queue up to seek treatment in Wuhan Tongji Hospital Fever Clinic
EPA
A man is using alcohol to disinfect a community in Wuhan after the city has been placed on lockdown
A man is using alcohol to disinfect a community in Wuhan after the city has been placed on lockdown
Getty Images – Getty
Local authorities have demanded that residents wear masks in Wuhan
Local authorities have demanded that residents wear masks in Wuhan
Getty Images – Getty
This image shows how the price of cabbage is now £3.85
This image shows how the price of cabbage is now £3.85
Twitter
The cost of meat has also jumped to £13.95
The cost of meat has also jumped to £13.95
Twitter

“DO NOT GO TO WUHAN”

Our on the ground reporter, who is too fearful of the Chinese authorities to be identified, says there is little activity on the streets with people shutting themselves indoors.

She said: “Only the main transport hubs, such as the airport and the train station indicate that this is a city of 11 million, as families jostle with their suitcases, eager to escape to their Lunar New Year destinations, the most important festival in the Chinese calendar, in case an all-out quarantine is enforced.

“There’s a notable difference as soon as I land in Wuhan. In the airport, almost every single person, including staff, is wearing a face mask.

“There’s hand sanitizer on every desk and some staff are wearing gloves. I walked through an infrared camera in arrivals but no one seemed to be paying any attention.

“Travelling into the city by cab, even drivers who are alone in their cars are wearing masks. With the fog, pollution and rain.”

A major Lunar New Year event, the most important event in the Chinese calendar which was due to start on Friday, has been cancelled.

Around 30,000 tourists had already purchased tickets to the event and 200,000 free event coupons had been handed out.

Mr Bin said: “Basically, do not go to Wuhan. And those in Wuhan please do not leave the city.

“Though the transmission route of the virus is yet to be fully understood, there is a possibility of virus mutation and a risk of further spread of the epidemic.”

The majority of cases have been found in Wuhan, where a seafood market which illegally sold wild animals is suspected of being the source of the outbreak.

“EXTREMELY CONCERNING”

Chinese officials confirmed ‘novel coronavirus‘ – which causes pneumonia -can be passed from person to person.

Leading expert, Dr Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, said that marks a serious shift change in the outbreak.

He warned: “This is extremely concerning.”

“Person to person transmission has been confirmed and, as expected, we are seeing rapidly increasing case numbers across China, and in more countries, with health care workers infected.


“With travel being a huge part of the fast approaching Chinese New Year, it is right that concern levels are at the highest level.”

The mayor of Wuhan has confirmed the latest deaths, an 89-year-old man from the city, which is home to more than 11 million people.

A 66-year-old man, known only as Li, and a woman, 48, known as Yin were also confirmed to have died from multiple organ failure.

AFP or licensors

A staff member disinfects the Hankou Railway Station in Wuhan on Wednesday morning[/caption]

Passengers wear masks during peak spring festival travel at the Hongqiao Railway Station during peak spring festival travel in Shanghai
EPA
Officials measure temperatures of passengers on board on an Air China flight from Wuhan to Macau
Reuters
Chinese paramilitary police officers wearing masks patrol the Hongqiao Railway Station in Shanghai
EPA
A boy wearing a face mask, who arrived from Guangzhou, China sits on top of a luggage at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, Philippines
EPA

There are now 291 reported cases of coronavirus - four fatal - across China
Reuters

There are now hundreds of reported cases of coronavirus across China[/caption]

An official uses an infrared thermometer on a traveller at an airport in Wuhan
AP:Associated Press

An official uses an infrared thermometer on a traveller at an airport in hard-hit Wuhan[/caption]

Getty Images – Getty

Travellers wearing protective masks walk outside a railway station in Yichang in central China’s Hubei province[/caption]

A traveler wears a face mask as he sits in a waiting room at the Beijing West Railway Station
AP:Associated Press

A traveller wears a face mask as he sits in a waiting room at the Beijing West Railway Station[/caption]

What is coronavirus?

Coronavirus is an airborne virus, spread in a similar way to colds and the flu.

The virus attacks the respiratory system, causing lung lesions.

Symptoms include a runny nose, headache, cough and fever, shortness of breath, chills and body aches.

It is incredibly contagious and is spread through contact with anything the virus is on as well as infected breath, coughs or sneezes.

Symptoms include a runny nose, headache, cough and fever, shortness of breath, chills and body aches.

In most cases, you won’t know whether you have a coronavirus or a different cold-causing virus, such as rhinovirus.

But if a coronavirus infection spreads to the lower respiratory tract (your windpipe and your lungs), it can cause pneumonia, especially in older people, people with heart disease or people with weakened immune systems.

There is no vaccine for coronavirus.

In 2003 an outbreak of a similar virus, SARS, infected more than 8,000 people in 37 countries before it was brought under control, killing 800 of those worldwide.

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